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If you are the husband, wife or civil partner of an individual who has settled status in the UK, this is the visa category you will be required to apply under should you wish to join them in the UK.   In addition to spouse relationship, the immigration rules do acknowledge the significance of unmarried partner relationships. They are given same rights as enjoyed by the spouses where "Two persons living together in a relationship akin to marriage for at least two years would be considered as unmarried partners of each other".

If your application is successful under this category, you will be granted permission to live and work in the UK for a period of 30 months. At the end of this period you need to apply for a further period of stay in order to bring your total stay in the UK to 5 years.   Providing you are still married or in a civil partnership and you plan to live with your spouse/civil partner permanently in the UK, you may apply for permanent residence, currently known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’.

It is important to note that if the settled spouse has more than one wife or husband overseas, only one will be allowed to join them in the UK.

Requirements of the settled person in the UK

If you wish to join your husband, wife or civil partner in the UK you must first ensure that:

They are at least 21 years of age.
They currently reside and have ‘settled status’ in the UK; OR
They are coming to live permanently in the UK.
Requirements of the applicant intending to join their spouse/civil partner in the UK

The requirements for the applicant intending to join their spouse/civil partner in the UK may at first glance appear to be simple; however in reality when preparing the application the opposite is often the case. Applicants are advised to pay careful attention to the requirements and to seek clarification on any matter of uncertainty:

You, the applicant should qualify to apply for a spouse/civil partner visa if you are able to demonstrate the following:

You are both at least 21 years of age.
You have met your spouse or civil partner previously.
You are legally married to your spouse or you are in a civil partnership recognised in the UK.
Your spouse or civil partner is present and settled in the UK.
You and your spouse/civil partner both intend to live together permanently.
You are able to meet the minimum income requirements

You are able to meet the English language requirement
You have adequate accommodation for yourself and any dependants which is owned/rented by yourselves without assistance from UK public funds.
Explanation on the requirements

Parties are both 21 years of age
Both parties in a marriage/civil partnership will now have to reach the age of 21 before they can apply for a visa to enter the UK or sponsor a visa for their spouse/civil partner to enter the UK.

The government has explained that their objective in increasing the age from 18 to 21 is to deter forced marriages, protect vulnerable people as well as limit abuse of using the marriage/civil partnership route to migrating to the UK.

The submission of passports with the application will be sufficient to demonstrate the age of the parties involved.

Parties to the marriage/civil partnership have met
Generally it is unlikely that individuals have never met their spouse/civil partner, however in certain circumstances, this is indeed the case (e.g. arranged marriages, forced marriages, sham marriages).

The British Diplomatic posts will NOT take these circumstances as an exception to the general rule and therefore supporting evidence regarding the meeting of the parties to the marriage/civil partnership is very important.

Possible supporting evidence could be

Pictures of both parties during the relationship and/or at the wedding/civil partnership.
Tickets or bookings in both names to places the couple have visited together.
The marriage certificate itself sometimes mentions the presence of the two parties to marriage.
In addition to the above, the Entry Clearance Officers may also ask questions relating to this issue to ensure that the applicant has indeed really met their spouse/civil partner. Most frequent questions are regarding the place or time / day of first meeting, where the marriage ceremony took place, close family members of the sponsor and the like.

NB: Internet relationships

It is not sufficient for a relationship to have developed over the internet in order to satisfy the requirements, unless the relationship included a personal face-to-face meeting between the couple.

Legal Marriage/Civil Partnership recognised in the UK
Applicants will need to show that they are either legally married or have officially registered a civil partnership which is recognised in the UK.

A legal marriage is one that is registered with the official registrar of the place where the marriage ceremony took place. The official registrar / local authority usually issues marriage certificate as proof of marriage which in return creates rights and obligations for both the parties.

In the majority of cases a marriage certificate will provide satisfactory evidence that a marriage has taken place.

A civil partnership is a legal relationship which can be registered by two individuals of the same sex. It gives same-sex couples the ability to obtain legal recognition for their relationship. The UK will recognise some legal relationships registered under the law of another country.

Where two people have officially registered an overseas relationship, they will be treated as having formed a civil partnership in the UK.

Present and settled in the UK
Applicants are required to demonstrate that the spouse or civil partner they intend to join is present and settled in the UK. This means that the settled person must be physically present in the UK at the time of the application, unless they are accompanying or joining the applicant and wish to make the UK their home.

Present and settled means that the individual in the UK is settled (i.e. indefinite leave to remain, British citizenship or right of abode), and at the same time that an application is made, is physically present in the UK or is coming here with or to join the applicant and intends to make the UK their home with the applicant - if the application is successful.

Please note that a British Citizen who has been resident overseas but who now intends to return to the UK to live can be regarded as present and settled in the UK.

Both parties intend to live together permanently
The applicant and spouse/civil partner must be able to demonstrate that there is a clear intention to live permanently with each other and there is a strong commitment from both sides.

Evidence to support this intention could be a letter from both parties formally declaring that they are married/in a civil partnership and intend to live together at a given address which is owned/occupied by the sponsor in the UK.

Please note that the Entry Clearance Officer may ask questions regarding the address or description of the place of residence in the UK. This is to confirm that the applicant has all the right intentions to live together with the spouse/civil partner.

How to meet the Income requirements can be  complex depending on circumstances

These can include:

Bank Statements.
Pay slips.
Letter from the employer(s).
Employment contract.
Financial Statements / Annual Accounts of the business (if sponsor is self employed).
Tax documents.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and the supporting evidence will in fact depend on the applicant’s/sponsor’s individual circumstances.

Sufficient accommodation without recourse to public funds
Evidence of arranged/suitable accommodation will be very important for the application.

Appropriate evidence can include:

Tenancy agreement; OR
Land Registry Certificate/Mortgage Papers.
Sometimes it is useful to have a letter from the local council confirming the number of rooms and the facilities / amenities available to confirm there will be no overcrowding in the accommodation.

These documents must be supported by the bank statements of the sponsor to prove that they have sufficient funds to rent/own the accommodation without assistance from UK public funds.

Supporting Documents

In order to be able to demonstrate that you satisfy the above requirements, you will need to provide supporting documentation.

Please note that It is possible for application to be refused due to the lack of supporting evidence which in many cases is simply just overlooked by the applicant. Although the refusal of a spouse/civil partner visa triggers a right of appeal, unfortunately the process may just take too long to be considered by the Entry Clearance Manager or the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) and therefore it is crucial that the application is prepared well from the outset.

It is advised to pay careful attention to even the most minor details before submitting your application under the spouse/civil partner category. We recommend all applicants to obtain legal assistance in the event that they require clarification or assistance with applications and we at Law Firm Ltd. have a wealth of experience with handling these applications.